Estranged Students Solidarity week – a student experience

This week is Estranged Students Solidarity week. So this week on the blog we have a Student Mental Health Champion sharing her experience of being an estranged student studying at NTU.

If you didn’t already know here at NTU there is lots of support available for estranged students so don’t feel you have to struggle alone, for more information on what support we offer go to our website.

By Bethany Bentley a 1st year Psychology student

When starting university normally your parents help you move in, maybe help with financial problems and are there even to talk to just to update them on how you’re doing. These simple things can help the average university student out. But some students don’t have this and it can make university harder. I’m not going to lie university has been hard for me but that’s more to do with Covid-19 and just a general balance of life rather than being estranged from my parents. 

Back in March of 2019, I cut contact with my mum due to lots of family issues and a police investigation that was going on. To this day I don’t speak to her and I also don’t know who my dad is. I have 6 half-sisters and don’t speak to them either. Luckily, I do live with my grandparents and they help me when they can but I pay for everything like my accommodation, food, and if I need textbooks etc. 

Before university even started I was so stressed as I needed to get letters approved and people to fill out forms for my maintenance loan. I couldn’t contact my mother to see how much she earns each year and my grandparents are retired and don’t help me financially – so I opted to see if I could be granted estrangement entitlement. This was a quick process considering we were in lockdown, however I then needed to sort accommodation out. My accommodation is private so I needed a guarantor for my rent and as my grandparents are retired I had to pay for a private guarantor which is expensive.

Before university I booked in for budgeting sessions with NTU which I found helpful as they gave me a budgeting spreadsheet to help with when bills come out, etc. and I would really recommend this service. 

NTU is amazing as I have a way to budget my money to last me through the terms and they also provide bursaries you can apply for. NTU provides me with two bursaries. The first bursary they provide is the estrangement one which is £1000 for the academic year and then £750 for the academic year for the other general one. This money helps me with food, textbooks, and general bills. I can not express how grateful I am for the support from NTU for this. There are many services with NTU Student Support Services you can apply for help with.

I have felt like I should be experiencing this with my Mother as it’s a life achievement, but I won’t be able to celebrate with her and she won’t be at my graduation. But I do this for me and I think of my future. You should be proud of yourself and how you have done this by yourself, like how empowering it is. You can also get help from the people around you and keeping busy to not feel as lonely. 

I have good support from my grandparents as I call them often. I have come to university with my best friend so living with her helps as I have someone I love with me which feels like family. I have the most amazing boyfriend who supports me and helped me move in. He’s also helped me so much with calling me and being there for me when I’m sad. My advice would be to make friends if you can, even online or with your flatmates so you don’t feel as alone at university and I would also say if you can’t go home at Christmas to see if you can stay at NTU during Christmas so you can have somewhere to stay.

For a week or so I felt so unmotivated with university and that’s okay to feel like that. I feel as motivated as ever now! I have joined the psychology society, social sciences society, and photography society to keep myself busy. Also, I’m working towards the employability award and I’ve joined the women’s development course. NTU offers amazing things to do online to keep yourself busy alongside your studies and also to look good on a CV. Staying busy can help opportunities at university can help with estrangement but equally watching Netflix and having snacks one night might also be needed. 

Overall, my university experience would probably be better without COVID but I’m making the most of my time and utilising all the online classes and events to my advantage.

Don’t forget that Student Support Services are still here to support you and we are regularly posting through TwitterFacebook and Instagram as well as over on the Virtual Global Lounge Team

For help and advice whilst studying at NTU, take a look at the following for sources of support.
Support from NTU
Silvercloud: SilverCloud is our online system designed to help with a range of mental health issues.
Depression advice
Wellness in Mind: Advice and support for anyone in Nottingham experiencing issues with their mental wellbeing
Struggling at Uni? Go to Student Minds
10 Keys to happiness

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